Explain the Game – Two-Way Contracts
After the end of the 2016-2017 season, the NBA made an important change in its rules. It was decided that the rosters of the NBA teams could be expanded from 15 to 17 spots per team.
The two extra spots can be filled by players who are able to play in the G-League and with one NBA team, for a maximum of 45 days. If that maximum is reached, that player can get a standard NBA contract, or he will have to remain with the G-League team for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for a two-way contract, as players can’t have played more than four seasons in the NBA. Now, a couple of months into the new season, 58 of the 60 possible roster spots are filled. Two clubs, the Indiana Pacers and the Minnesota Timberwolves only have one two-way contract.
This is the start of a closer collaboration between the NBA and the G-League. Two years ago, only 19 NBA teams had a collaboration with a single G-League team, compared to 26 this season. For the 2018-2019 season, the Wizards will become the 27th NBA team with a G-League team. Before this two-way contract rule was implemented, the NBA teams were cautious to invest in G-league players, because those players could be called up to any NBA team and sign a contract wherever they wanted.
The two-way contract will end that possibility, as the player can only sign a contract with the affiliate team. This means that the NBA teams will spend more money and time in developing the player into maybe become the next NBA star. It allows the player to continue to have regular playing time in the G-League, while being able to adjust and develop to the level in the NBA at the same time. Of course, it is also a disadvantage for both the players and the teams if those players are limited to contracts with one NBA team.
Salary wise, a two-way contract is an advantage for both the player and the NBA team. The two extra players aren’t counted against the salary cap of the teams, which means there are no consequences for the rest of the teams. Furthermore, in the best case scenario, the two-way contract player will make more than in a G-League contract. If the player spends the maximum of 45 days with an NBA team and the rest of the time in the G-League, he will earn around $280.000 per year.
This new type of contracts could turn out to be quite a good thing for the development of future NBA players, or will limited them in the chance to get a contract with one of the 30 NBA teams. But, it is only the inaugural season of these contract, and only time will tell their outcome.